Today's list consists of "catalog artists" (aka, artists that have been around for years). Coincidentally, all of the following released new material this year. Yet it was mostly older material that really rocked my brain off.
Until October 2005, I thought Tom Waits was The Guy With Nearly-Unlistenable Songs That Somehow Wrote The Very-Listenable, "Downtown Train". Being introduced to his gentler material (like "Take It With Me," "Tom Traubert's Blues" and "Ol' '55"), I realized there was more to this guy.
With the acquisition of Used Songs, a collection of his material on Asylum, I dug even more. Reading Innocent When You Dream, reading the Complete Idiot's Guide on Jefito and seeing Big Time, his "unlistenable" stuff became pretty listenable. Now I'm at a point where I want to have almost every album of his. While I await some nice record company to remaster and reissue his back-catalog, I look forward to hearing Orphans, the new 3-disc compilation of unreleased and new material.
Feeder has been around for ten years. Though more popular across the pond, some of their songs have been used in commercials and TV shows on the WB (back before it became the CW). Thanks to used record stores around town, I found almost all of their back catalog for cheap. No, these guys aren't trailblazing, but they rock with a melodic tinge that I can't get enough of. And they don't come across as wimpy either.
A few months before I heard the It's Raining Today compilation, I had the urge to hear some really rich orchestral pop. I don't know exactly why, but I did. Being introduced to Scott Walker's solo material via a couple of nice write-ups on the 'net and hearing It's Raining Today, I had to have some of this for myself. Opting out of picking up the single-disc Boy Child compilation, I jumped in the deep end with the 5-disc In 5 Easy Pieces. I'm still sifting through all of this, but I'm glad I picked it up. If I had picked up Boy Child, I would have wanted more.
Sonic Youth was a band that always eluded me. I've known about them since 7th grade and I've slowly warmed up to them (fifteen years after the fact). I've had Dirty, Murray Street and Sonic Nurse for a while, along with burned copies of Washing Machine, EVOL and Daydream Nation, but something just didn't sink in. Listening to Dirty's "Sugar Kane" and Sonic Nurse's "Peace Attack" over and over this year, I finally got these guys.
2006 saw the band release another stellar album, Rather Ripped, in addition to a compilation of non-LP and unreleased material called The Destroyed Room. They have so much material to process and I'm just beginning. For now, it's Rather Ripped and the Goo reissue that I'm digging. I'll get to stuff like A Thousand Leaves and Sister eventually. Maybe by then Daydream Nation will get its long-overdue reissue.